Downing II vs. Churchill II (bibs)Nordin Ćatić

The second weekend of college football this term provided just as much entertainment as the first. 17 matches were played across the six divisions providing a grand total of 111 goals scored.

Division 1 saw three matches played over the weekend, all of which had plenty of exciting football on display. There was some late drama on show as Fitzwilliam came from behind late on against Pembroke to win 5-4, showing that even when they don’t play at their best they are capable of winning – an attribute which has seen them top the division three times in the past four years. In a uncharacteristically ropey defensive performance from Fitz, Pembroke took the lead twice by being dominant in the air. The hosts (Pembroke) were 4-3 up in the final stages of the game, however, the Fitzwilliam team (who have not lost a league match for the past two seasons) were not going to give in: two late goals from Tom Young and Tom Randall spared the visitor’s blushes, setting them off to a winning start to their campaign. The nine-goal thriller was testament to two impressive attacking displays – Fitz winger Jed Odabgu terrorised the Pembroke defence with his pace and skill whilst midfielder Ellis Birch scored one of the goals of the day with a volley from the edge of the box. Pembroke will not be too disheartened by the defeat, as it shows an improved performance from last week’s 4-0 hammering from Caius. Nevertheless, they will be eager to get some points under their belt to avoid having a difficult season at the bottom of the table.

Elsewhere, the side that shared the title with Fitzwilliam last season (Churchill) had to settle for just one point against a physical John’s side, who showcased an aggressive pressing style from the first whistle. Churchill were caught napping early on and conceded in the first ten minutes thanks to a clever finish from James Wilson. They managed to grow into the game however, and found success from sliding balls through to Jed Asemota up front, who scored a tidy chip from just outside the penalty box. Soon after half-time a quick throw-in down Churchill’s left flank culminated in a low driven effort from Eddie Furlong which skidded past John’s keeper. Churchill weren’t ahead for long however, with John’s scoring a scrappy goal from a corner through Will Pocock. Towards the end of the half the game got stretched; both teams seemed to be tiring, but the end to end football remained captivating. John’s began running the midfield through strong performances from Lucca Periera-Martins and Ikechi Mere and would surely have scored if it wasn’t for Churchill centre-back Osa Iluobe tidying up at the back impressively. Neither team could find a winner in a game which on another day could have been won at either end but both had to settle for a point as the game finished 2-2. The third Division 1 game also finished 2-2 as Corpus Christi bagged their first point of the season against Downing with the pick of the goals being a free-kick from the halfway line scored by Corpus’ Arun Thirunavukarasu – only he will know whether he meant it or not.

In Division 2 the two sides who lost their openers last week battled it out to get some points on the board as Trinity hosted Kings, with Trinity coming out 4-2 winners. Despite the final scoreline, Kings were dominant in the first half by controlling the midfield, they simply couldn’t turn their dominance into goals and the game changed when Trinity scored a free kick just before the half. Trinity’s clinical attacking play saw them open up a three-goal lead after half time, with Matt Smith scoring two. A spirited fightback from Kings was led by goals from Fabrizio De Vito and Rob Forrest but, as they pushed on for an equaliser, Trinity hit them on the counterattack to kill the game off. Kings’ Conall Murray and Trinity’s Matthew Stone were the standout players on show. Trinity now turn to face a tough away day against Fitzwilliam in Cuppers next weekend and will be hoping for some more clinical finishing if they are to stand a chance of a potential cup upset.

“Trinity now turn to face a tough away day against Fitzwilliam in Cuppers next weekend and will be hoping for some more clinical finishing if they are to stand a chance of a potential cup upset.”

Elsewhere in Division 2, two goals by Selwyn captain Tom Barker-Weinberger helped last year’s Division 3 champions get off to a winning start against St. Catherine’s, where the game ended 3-2. Despite a man of the match performance from Zixiao Hu in defensive midfield and two goals in the final 20 minutes, Catz were unable to find the third elusive goal which would have made it a memorable comeback. Sidney Sussex also came home 3-1 winners over Emma despite a fantastic solo goal from Emma’s right back Ted Perkin, who skinned four players before leathering the ball into the top corner.

In Division 3, Christs hosted Clare in a hard-fought game between two teams who will both, no doubt, be looking at promotion this year. A scrappy first half was lit up by a fantastic strike from Clare’s Joshua Korber Hoffman, but Christs replied quickly through a Stephan Stephanides strike to level the game at half time. The second half started slowly but the game opened up as both teams tired. The final ten minutes saw end to end action and some quality last-ditch defending from Clare’s Will Underwood and James Adeosun pairing at the back. A draw was very much on the cards until Harry Pollock stepped up on the counter attack, striking with the last kick of the game.

The other two Division 3 games saw a rampant Caius II side beat Jesus II 6-2- with Caius’ in form striker Tom Pearson bagging five goals to make it nine in just three games. Darwin built on their win last week, beating Johns II 4-2.

Division 4 only saw two games played over the weekend, the first of which saw Emma II’s Joe Waters score all three in a 3-0 win over Selwyn II. The other game in Division 4 saw Girton II earn a hard-fought victory away at Peterhouse, winning 3-2. Peterhouse travel to Churchill in Cuppers next weekend, and will be hoping for a memorable performance if they are to provide any shocks.

In Division 5 St Catherine’s II continued right where they left off last week and thrashed Jesus III 5-0 with Peter Candy getting on the scoresheet, earning himself man of the match. The most hotly fought match in the division this gameweek was between Caius III and Trinity III. An inspired 20 minute spell from Caius in the first half saw them leading 4-1 at half time. Trinity fought back chasing an equaliser making it 5-4 with only a handful of minutes left. It was Caius who had the last laugh with a goal in the final minute to round off a good performance with a healthy 6-4 scoreline. The other game in Division 5 saw Clare II convincingly beat Fitzwilliam III 3-0.

“The most hotly fought match in the division this gameweek was between Caius III and Trinity III.”

Division 6 saw three very high scoring games with 36 goals in total (and no team scoring fewer than four). Homerton III beat Fitzwilliam IV 9-7 in what can only be described as an end to end battle from the first whistle to the last. Emma III had a strong 7-4 win over Pembroke III with Emma captain George Worrall netting four and Colin Kaljee pulling the strings. The final game of the weekend saw St Johns III narrowly overcome ARCSOC 5-4 despite a Lucas Renshaw hattrick.

Next weekend is cup weekend, with the Cuppers, Shield and Vase competitions all getting underway. Cuppers holders Fitzwilliam host Division 2’s Trinity and last year’s semi-finalists Churchill host underdogs Peterhouse. The only all Division One fixture will see Caius host Pembroke for the second time in two weeks; the hosts will hope for a similar performance to the one that saw them come out 4-0 victors in their meeting a fortnight ago.